Regulatory Problems in the Garment/Footwear Industries

It is essential that the fashion industry has established regulations to sustain the apparel and footwear industries.   Above all, we must establish a wide range of regulations to promote the well being of the industry.  It is extremely important to have proper legal representation advising your company about the issues discussed below.  

It would be wise to look at the services offered by companies such as Sandler, Travis, and Rosenberg (ST&R) in this regard. 

In this article, we explore some of the rules and regulations established to keep the industry safe and sustainable.    

Antidumping 

Antidumping refers to making sales that are not deemed fair in the international market.   For example, China and the USA have been engaged in trade disputes for the past few decades.  This eventually led to a trade war and anti-dumping claims by both countries.  

Britain’s exit from the EU has many complexities.  In the coming negotiations, there will be many references to antidumping practices and how to resolve them. 

Antidumping quotas require diligent negotiations.  The purpose is to keep some balance so there is a win-win situation. 

Product Safety

When producing clothing for specific use (firemen, construction, medical), the first consideration must be the safety of the product according to its purpose.  Some clothing may need to be flame retardant and there are strict regulations established to ensure the safety of the wearer. 

One can check the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for their labeling laws to ensure your product meets the standards.

Another contact is the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission at the Office of Compliance (for specific enforcement inquires: e-mail: sect15@cpsc.gov; telephone: (301) 504-7520).

Employee Safety

There is a wide variation of standards in textile factories throughout the world.  Obviously, it is more difficult in poorer countries to mandate strict safety measures.  

In Bangladesh, improving workers’ safety through the Accord on Fire and Safety establishes practices designed to prevent disasters like the Rana Plaza factory collapse.  This is a legally binding accord with stricter rules and frequent audits at manufacturing facilities.  This helps improve the working conditions for employees, through remediation and workplace training.

In 2018, the accord reported progress on 84% of remediation measures to reduce life-threatening safety concerns, such as proper fire exits, alarms, and structural factory retrofitting.

In terms of global safety, the Clean Clothes Campaign was created to protect workers worldwide.  

The devastating fire in India that killed 43 people because of an electrical short circuit. More information is available, “Massive Fire in New Delhi Kills 43 Workers”. 

Workers Rights

More effort is required to fully address gaps in workers’ rights in the garment and footwear sectors, especially relating to child labor, fair living wages, freedom of association, sexual harassment, and various forms of discrimination. Addressing these gaps requires strong supply chain management systems and proactive individuals. 

We previously published an article about “The International Working Standards in the Apparel Industry.”  Many of these problems are referenced in the article. 

In the US $2.4 trillion garment and footwear industry, which employs millions of workers worldwide, labor rights abuses are rife.

The governments of producing countries worldwide are primarily responsible for working conditions and labor law compliance in factories. But according to international standards, though non-binding, global apparel and footwear companies or “brands” also have a responsibility to ensure the rights of workers are respected.  Everyone must take measures to prevent and address human rights abuses.

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development

In 2017, the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) adopted a global guidance standard on companies’ due diligence requirements regarding their supply chains. The document addresses some of the most salient topics in the garment supply chain: child labor, forced labor, workers’ wages, collective bargaining agreements. While the guidance is not legally binding, it has been ratified by OECD member states.   Companies active in this industry are expected to conduct their business in accordance with this document.

The UK and US have drafted laws requiring companies to provide extensive disclosure on topics related to human rights issues (e.g. slavery, human trafficking) detected in their supply chains.

France established the Duty of Care of Parent Companies and Ordering Companies law in 2017, stipulating that companies must set up vigilance plans to identify risks. Failure to implement such programs could lead to company fines of up to EUR 30 million.

The Netherlands has a more targeted approach. Through the Child Labor Due Diligence Law (2017), companies are required to investigate the presence of child labor and to develop and implement corrective action plans where needed.

Conclusion

ST&R has a key role in identifying problems and suggesting effective remediations as it applies to rules and regulations such as:

  • Child labor
  • Discrimination
  • Non-compliance with minimum wage laws
  • Work time
  • Facility workforce standards
  • Antidumping

Author: Jeffrey Clark

A management professional with 25 years global experience working with fortune 500 and speciality brands, specializing in lean manufacturing, product, supply chain management, procurement, sourcing, and operations. Proven proactive leadership, vision, creative, and successful strategic business skills to drive revenue and profit growth in highly competitive domestic and global markets. A strong relationship builder, functions effectively as an integral member of a cohesive senior executive team. Proven ability to source, identify and capitalize on emerging trends and niche market opportunities.